Still Life

Monday, September 17, 2012

Workshop with Amaya Gurpide



Last July, while working on the repeat monster panel, I had the privilege of attending a figure painting workshop with Spanish painter Amaya Gurpide in her studio in Madrid in the evenings. You can read about the career of this young woman in her website, but in a (really small) nutshell, aside from her training here in Spain, she has also honed her skills studying in the traditional atelier method in New York´s Grand Central Academy as well as the Arts Students´ League.  It was a fantastic opportunity for me to absorb knowledge from her as it was to share the 4 weeks in her studio with 5 other young artist students of the Escuela Superior de Dibujo Profesional here in Madrid, where Amaya is a faculty member. She is a talented, indefatigable and selfless teacher, always willing to help and explain with great patience. The experience was well worth the time...

The workshop centered on drawing and painting the figure, focussing mainly on how to exploit values to define and round out the form. After several sessions dedicated to drawing the model in front of us where we were taught/reminded how to "see" and look at the figure, we went on to painting the model in oil, using string of 9 pre-mixed values which were used for the underpainting layers and which were later adjusted in chroma and temperature by using a very limited palette of 6 colors. Perhaps I´ve summarized the process, and there is a lot more to it than what I´ve said here, I hope Amaya doesn´t pull her hair in frustration reading this...

Here is what our palette looked like:


The lower string is the pre-mix of nine values used for skin tones, and you can see the row of 6 colors in the upper row: white (preferably lead white), yellow ochre, cadmium red, raw umber, ultramarine (or cobalt) blue, and ivory black. All you need, really, for just about anything.

And here is a detail of my result after 8 sessions. My hat is off to our model, so utterly professional and patient, and full of good cheer even when she was understandably exhausted.



Another 3 sessions would have been perfect to finish off the painting.  Here is what the whole canvas looked like. It measures 41 x 33 cms. You can see the different phases of underpainting in the mid-section and the lower extremities. It is only the portion shown in the previous photo that I consider complete with all the values corrected, the forms rounded out and the color temperature more or less correct.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Five months later...



I´ve been so conscious about the almost five month lull since the last post that I´ve just been hoping no one has come to visit this blog to notice my inactivity. "Inactivity" is actually the antithesis of what´s been going on...
After the initial installation of my monster panels in Sta. Comba, a problem arose in the second panel that required a solution. The solution being nothing short of repeating the panel...well, half the panel. The lower half. The one with all the figures.
Long story short, I re-painted it changing some details (I decided to include some friends as Apostles and change the color of Christ´s robe) and we finally installed the re-done half in the church last August 23rd.
Here is the panel in the workshop upon completion.  




...and this is how the whole altarpiece now looks. At first glance, the only difference is the color of Christ´s robe. It is only upon closer comparison that the other faces become evident as well as the treatment of the foreground, having added the Roman pavement and changed the large rock on the lower right somewhat. All in all, I am much happier with this second version -- there seems to be better overall chromatic harmony now and the predominant lines in each panel seem to converge towards the centerpiece more as well. I don´t know, just something I notice...